Picking up from where he left off at Knockhill, Kiyonari took his third consecutive start-to-finish victory on the factory Fireblade in race one. Fast starts and amazing consistency are the trademarks of HM Plant Honda Racing’s Japanese star. After breaking the lap record on laps four and 15, Kiyonari showed a clean pair of Michelins to his nearest challenger Leon Haslam to take his ninth win of the 2005 season.
Rutter meanwhile was fourth at the end of the first lap, before fellow Honda rider Michael Laverty’s retirement elevated him into the last podium position. The 32-year-old Midlander lost his race-long battle against John Reynolds and James Haydon in the closing stages to take a hard-earned fifth place at the chequered flag.
However, it was a role reversal for HM Plant Honda Racing in an action-packed second Superbike leg. Rutter secured the holeshot, and after a brief exchange of places with Laverty, pulled out an early lead.
It was Kiyonari’s turn to take fourth position at the end of lap one before mounting an almost immediate challenge for the podium positions. He took Leon Haslam for third on lap five, but then crashed out unhurt on the next lap while in hot pursuit of the CBR1000RR Fireblades of Rutter and Laverty.
Rutter came under increasing pressure from a hard-charging Gregorio Lavilla who had taken up the pursuing mantle from Laverty. The HM Plant Honda Racing star was relegated to third on lap 18, but managed to hold off defending champion John Reynolds in the sprint to the chequered flag.
The points difference between the British Superbike Championship’s two leading contenders was increased by two points after Rutter’s consistent performances at Snetterton. With a break in the calendar before the next round at Silverstone on 21 August, Kiyonari is returning to Japan to compete in the prestigious Suzuka 8-hour race on his HRC-prepared CBR1000RR Fireblade, while Rutter is taking a well-earned break.
Michael Rutter: “It’s been a hard weekend! I had the misfortune to crash during qualifying yesterday and that knocked me about a bit. The first race was really frustrating because all I wanted to do was finish on the podium.
“I made a determined start to race two, but wasn’t able to hold my advantage over full distance. So, third was a pleasing result under the circumstances and I’m happy to be taking a 45-point lead with HM Plant Honda Racing into the summer break until we resume at Silverstone.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari: “It is important for me to get a good start to every race and set the pace from the front. The HM Plant Honda Racing CBR1000RR Fireblade and Michelin tyres have allowed me to do this.
“I felt under pressure from Haslam in the early laps of the first race, but the excellent set-up enabled me to pull away and maintain good lap times. A slower start to race two left me with more work to do and I pushed too hard. It was my fault and I’m sorry for the team.”
Race one: 1. R. Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda Racing) 27:34.719; 2. L. Haslam (Ducati) +8.280; 3. J. Reynolds (Suzuki) +12.002; 4. J. Haydon (Suzuki) +13.263; 5. M. Rutter (HM Plant Honda Racing) +19.725; 6. K. Harris (Honda-Racing.co.uk) +28.409; 7. S. Plater (Honda) +28.723; 8. G. Mason (Honda) +29.066; 9. B. Wilson (Kawasaki) +30.246; 10. T. Hill (Yamaha) +31.866
Fastest lap: 1:05.685 – Kiyonari (lap 15, new lap record)
Race two: 1. G. Lavilla (Ducati) 27:39.538; 2. M. Laverty (Honda) +1.768; 3. M. Rutter (HM Plant Honda Racing) +5.982; 4. J. Reynolds (Suzuki) +10.080; 5. S. Plater (Honda) +21.383; 6. B. Wilson (Kawasaki) +21.666; 7. T. Hill (Yamaha) +21.755; 8. G. Mason (Honda) +22.234; 9. D. Thomas (Kawasaki) +22.716; 10. C. Burns (Yamaha) +39.160; DNF – R. Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda Racing)
Fastest lap: 1:05.713 – Laverty (lap 3)
Championship points: 1. Rutter – 302; 2. Kiyonari – 257; 3. Lavilla – 241; 4. Haslam – 172; 5. Richards – 160; 6. Harris – 125; 7. Laverty –113; 8. Thomas – 109; 9. Mason – 98; 10. Emmett – 79